Tag Archives: hotel

Trump SoHo

After unveiling plans on prime time TV (The Apprentice, June 2006), The Donald’s Trump SoHo lurched from one controversy to another. Having survived the gauntlet, the 46-story mirror-glass box now commands the local skyline – almost daring other developers to match it.

Of course anything that wears the Trump name is a lightning rod for criticism, but Columbia University architecture professor Mitchell Joachim is quoted (Wikipedia) calling Trump SoHo “one of the ugliest buildings in New York.” Architectural Record‘s Michael Sorkin stated, “As urbanism, it’s vandalism.” Sorkin sides with Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and others who sued to block the building, claiming it violated zoning restrictions. Trump prevailed, claiming the building was for transients, not permanent residents.

Work was stopped briefly in December 2006 when the excavation unearthed human remains – graves from beneath the former Spring Street Presbyterian Church. Work stopped again in 2008 when a concrete form collapsed, killing a worker.

The condo/hotel’s developers and interior design firm sued and countersued over payment/performance issues, and some condo buyers claimed that they had been tricked into purchasing units.

The architect, Handel Architects, points out that guests will have fabulous views in all directions. “The intent of the building design is to express the internal, dynamic life of the hotel and its relationship to its urban surroundings. The public theater of the hotel public spaces are revealed through clear glass, while the more private functions are concealed behind translucent glass.”

Preservationists point out that 46-story Trump SoHo is blatantly out of scale with a neighborhood of six- to 15-story buildings.

On the other hand, it does provide an interesting kaleidoscopic effect for sky photos.

Trump SoHo Vital Statistics
Trump SoHo Suggested Reading

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The Lucerne Hotel is distinctive for its bold color as well as its bold Beaux Arts style and uptown location.

Opened in 1904 as the Hotel Lucerne, the building was converted to a condominium (not to be confused with Lucerne Apartments on East 79th Street). It’s a hotel again – with the name reversed to Lucerne Hotel.

During a 1999/2000 restoration, the owners replaced a missing cornice (on the Amsterdam Avenue facade) and refinished the terra cotta.

Lucerne Vital Statistics
Lucerne Recommended Reading

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The Carlyle

The Carlyle Hotel and Carlyle House are next door neighbors on Madison Avenue, both designed by architects Bien & Prince and so closely matched you might not notice that they’re separate buildings. The hotel has the 40-story green-and-gilt-capped tower – and gilt-edged history to go with it.

The yellow brick and limestone buildings had an inauspicious start: Just two years after their 1930 opening, the hotel and apartment building were auctioned off, victims of the 1929 stock market crash. New owners kept the properties afloat financially, and in 1948 sold to Robert Whittle Downing. Downing is credited with turning The Carlyle into an elegant, fashionable address.

U.S. Presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton visited The Carlyle, but President Kennedy made it the “New York White House.” He had purchased an apartment in The Carlyle’s tower when he was a Senator. You can spot the apartment today by the breakfast nook that sticks out of the north side of the tower.

Kennedy wasn’t alone in modifying the tower – scan the facades and you’ll find a number of irregular windows.

Today, the hotel tower contains 180 guest rooms and suites, and 60 privately owned residences. The apartment building has 43 residences.

The Carlyle Vital Statistics
The Carlyle Recommended Reading

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Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center was controversial from the moment it was conceived – years before that name was even attached. Now that Time Warner is moving downtown to the Hudson Yards, who knows what new controversies will arise.

The oddly shaped site on Columbus Circle was inherited from the Coliseum, the Robert Moses-sponsored exhibition hall that was partly financed by federal slum clearance funds. Critics contend that the Coliseum was too small when it went up in 1956. In 1985 New York City and the MTA started shopping for a new developer. After nearly 14 years of design, political, and legal battles, Related Companies and Time Warner came up with the winning bid and design.

The project came with challenges: it had to follow the curve of Columbus Circle while aligning with the street grid – including angled Broadway; it had to include a “view corridor” of at least 65 feet; it had to contain less than 2.1 million square feet of space. (Like Grimm’s “Peasant’s Wise Daughter,” commanded to go to the king “neither naked nor clothed, neither walking nor riding, neither on the road nor off it.”)

Time Warner Center is actually five buildings: Offices and television studios for Time Warner; the One Central Park residential condominium tower; the Mandarin Oriental hotel tower; the Jazz at Lincoln Center performance halls; and The Shops at Columbus Center (originally the Palladium). While David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was responsible for overall design, each block had its own architectural team. As reported by The New York Times, Rafael Viñoly Architects designed Jazz at Lincoln Center; Perkins & Will, the Time Warner headquarters; Elkus/Manfredi Architects, the Palladium; Brennan Beer Gorman Architects and Hirsch Bedner Associates, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; and Ismael Leyva Architects and Thad Hayes, One Central Park.

The result, which The New York Times in 2001 termed “like a giant tuning fork vibrating to the zeitgeist,” had mixed reviews. On completion in 2004, The Times gushed, “the building has great glamour. It is far more romantic than the Jazz Age tributes conceived by Mr. Childs in his wanton postmodern youth. With 10 Columbus, the mood is modern noir. The two towers are worthy descendants of Radio City.”

New York Magazine credited Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) with conquering the complexities, but picked apart the details. “SOM got the big, difficult moves right, but for the success of any building to be complete, design decisions must reinforce each other consistently down the drafting chain. Unfortunately, sometime after the conceptual stages, SOM suffered a failure of attention span.”

Probably all will agree that Time Warner Center (whatever its future name) is a massive improvement over Robert Moses’ Coliseum.

Time Warner Center Vital Statistics
Time Warner Center Recommended Reading

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Divine Lorraine Hotel

Divine Lorraine Hotel is a fabulous Philadelphia ruin awaiting revival – ten blocks east of Philadelphia’s other fabulous ruin, Eastern State Penitentiary.

What earns it a spot in NewYorkitecture.com is that it was a New Yorker who made it Divine in the first place.

This building began life as the Lorraine Apartments – abodes for well-heeled Philadelphians. After a mere six years it was sold and converted to the Lorraine Hotel, a role it filled for almost half a century.

Then along came Harlem’s Reverend Major Jealous Divine, better known as Father Divine, whose Universal Peace Mission Movement bought the hotel in 1948. Divine, a black man who married a white woman at a time when interracial marriage was unthinkable, promptly radicalized the hotel. He renamed it Divine Lorraine Hotel, made it the first integrated U.S. hotel, required men and women (even if married) to stay on separate floors, converted ballrooms to places of worship, and installed a low-cost restaurant for the poor.

Though Father Divine died in 1965, his followers continued the hotel until 2000, when they sold it to developers. In 2006 the building was gutted for renovation, but the project was abandoned until fairly recently. Developer Eric Blumenfeld bought the property at auction in October 2012, with plans to revive it as apartments.

Divine Lorraine Hotel’s architect, Willis G. Hale, was born 1848 in Seneca Falls, N.Y. but moved to Philadelphia in the 1860s. His creations are known as wildly inventive – but few examples survive.

Divine Lorraine Hotel Vital Statistics
Divine Lorraine Hotel Recommended Reading

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Library Hotel

Library Hotel, a Gothic Revival sliver on Madison Avenue at E 41st Street, stands out. Literally. The building’s distinctive copper-skinned bay windows project out from the building line, so occupants can look straight up Madison Avenue.

Built in 1913, the 12-story office building was originally headquarters of the Fred F. French company, a vertically-integrated real estate/architectural/construction firm. French eventually moved to Fifth Avenue and the character (and number) of tenants at 299 Madison changed over the years, until it lay vacant in the 1990s.

In 1999 new owners converted the offices into a library-themed boutique hotel – somehow fitting six rooms into each 25-by-100-foot floor. Stephen B. Jacob Group was the conversion architect.

Library Hotel Vital Statistics
Library Hotel Recommended Reading

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Gilsey House Hotel

Gilsey House Hotel is one of the last reminders that this stretch of Broadway – between Madison Square and Herald Square – was the social center of the city. There were six theaters on the three blocks between 28th and 31st Streets; so many music publishers were on neighboring 28th Street, the sound of their pianos gave rise to the name “Tin Pan Alley.” A block west, meanwhile, was the notorious “Tenderloin” district of brothels and gambling clubs.

The Gilsey House Hotel was among the most luxurious in the city, but a legal battle between the Gilsey family and the hotel operator shut the property down. In 1911 the Gilsey House Hotel became lofts serving the garment industry. In 1980 the building was converted to condominium apartments, and the facade was restored in 1992 – though missing most of the outer set of columns, which had extended over the building line. (See the Wikipedia article for a photo of the original design.)

Gilsey House Hotel Vital Statistics
Gilsey House Hotel Recommended Reading

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Johnston Building

Johnston Building, aka NoMad Hotel, was built in 1903 as a store and office building. It is notable for its limestone facade – an expensive finish for an office building – and for its corner tower and cupola. Last but not least, it is also notable (for 1903) that the owner was a woman: Caroline H. Johnston.

After a lengthy conversion (2008-2012) by Sydell Group, the building is now a Parisian-inspired boutique hotel with interiors designed by Jacques Garcia.

Sydell Group also operates the Ace Hotel – the former Breslin Hotel – located one block to the north.

Johnston Building Vital Statistics
Johnston Building Recommended Reading

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Hotel York

Hotel York, converted to rental apartments in 1986, is now known as The York. The Beaux Arts limestone, brick, and terra cotta facade was grievously altered on the ground floor with a pale green glass skin framing storefronts.

On the second story and above, the original terra cotta and iron decoration is in bold relief against the limestone and red brick facade.

At least 18 of Harry B. Mulliken’s hotels and apartment houses, built in 1900-1915, still survive in Manhattan – including The Lucerne.

Hotel York Vital Statistics
Hotel York Recommended Reading

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Hotel Seville

Hotel Seville – now known as The Carlton – was built in two sections. The first section was the 12-story limestone and brick building on the corner of Madison Avenue and E 29th Street; the second section was the 11-story western wing that extends from E 29th Street through to E 28th Street. The hotel’s main entrance was originally on E 29th Street, what is now the restaurant entrance; the new entry and lobby at 88 Madison Avenue is a modern addition. Gone is the rooftop sign.

Hotel Seville is just outside the Madison Square North Historic District (2001). The building did make it to the National Register of Historic Places, however, in 2005.

Harpo Marx reputedly worked as a bellhop at the Hotel Seville, and his experiences are said to have been incorporated in Marx Brothers skits.

Hotel Seville Vital Statistics
Hotel Seville Recommended Reading

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